Social Networking 101

From dating to blogging to discussions of literature, the Internet offers a whole new way to express yourself and to meet new people. Use our guide to answer your questions, learn to connect, and be part of the fun.
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What's a Blog?

A blog (shortened from "Weblog") is a personal Web page that the creator regularly updates. It's similar to a diary or journal, except bloggers choose to post their feelings, thoughts, and observations for the world to see rather than to scribble them on a page. Blogs are usually updated daily or weekly and most offer readers an opportunity to post a comment. No editor, publisher, or other third party filters the information. Freedom of speech prevails, but the quality of writing and subject matter are a decidedly mixed bag. Blogs promote projects, share experiences, voice opinions, and chronicle journeys; most contain photos or other graphics and links to other Web sites. A woman who's battling breast cancer may create a blog so she can update friends about her health without fielding phone calls all day long. A stay-at-home mom may blog to share her day-to-day thoughts on raising kids. The possibilities are endless -- and to date there are more than 70 million blogs on the Internet.

To get a sense of what blogs are about, visit blogsearch.google.com, type in any topic, and take a tour of the scores of blogs that turn up. Some of the most popular are also listed at technorati.com/pop/blogs.

To start your own blog, go to google.com and search "free blog." You'll get a list of dozens of free blog sites. Better yet, go to lhj.com/startablog. Any blog site should walk you step by step through the process of creating one. Don't be discouraged if you have few visitors at first; it takes time to establish an audience. Post on other blogs to introduce yourself and invite visitors to yours.

Blogs We Love

Check out these blogs -- they're fun and informative.

Thebudgetfashionista.com
Fashion and style tips for women with real bodies -- and real budgets.

Designspongeonline.com
Daily inspiration for the interior designer in you, whether you're plotting your dream kitchen or painting a wall.

Cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com
A whole blog devoted to cupcakes. Need we say more?

Mentalfloss.com/blogs
Random, interesting information that will give you more than enough conversation starters for your next dinner party.

Fitnessmagazine.com/community
Healthy inspiration on everything from diets to half-marathon training from the entertaining and informative bloggers at FITNESS magazine.

Politico.com
For political junkies who live outside the Beltway but want to feel like insiders.

Sound off on lhj.com -- Whether the topic is politics, diets, or marriage (to name just a few), you can talk about it on our message boards.

Continued on page 2:  Can I Get a Date?

 

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